McDowell's popularity enhanced by US Open qualification

 

With the season almost at the half-way stage, things have settled down in terms of sorting out team selections and the make-up of the overall leaderboard.

Many familiar names are among the top-50, with this week's winner, David Maune, joined on the overall list by the likes of Michael Delaney, Tony Murnaghan, David Creanor and Paul Dowling.

As he was at the outset, Graeme McDowell is our most popular player, featuring on 22.3 per cent of teams. That means there were over 1,500 managers who were happy to see him pre-qualify for the US Open at Walton Heath, and surely none of them will take him out before Oakmont. Eamonn Murray (third overall with Eamo's Heroes 3) is the highest-ranked employer of McDowell, who features in 13 of the top-50 teams.

Tiger Woods earned his record-breaking 8 million price tag on foot of his brilliant form in the second half of 2006. The fee doesn't leave much room to work with, and before this week's transfer window only two of the top-50 employed him (Frank Hastings in sixth with NC's team and Gearóid Fitzmaurice, seventh with Tiger's Lads).

It's no surprise Padraig Harrington is in so many of the top teams after his 400,000 jackpot at Adare Manor, and 31 of our top-50 will be hoping he can make the major breakthrough this week.

Four of the top-50 have all 10 transfers remaining. They should note the European Open, with bonus money, is our only counting event in a few weeks. No sooner will the US Open be over then canny managers will be scrutinising European form. ... e-mail: golfmasters@irish-times.ie